Peas, Beans, Carrots & Lettuce

Peas love caraway, chervil, summer savory and marjoram. They flourish with lettuce, beans and carrots. But peas absolutely despise the entire families of allium (onion) and brassica (cabbage, broccoli, etc). They also despise beet, chard, kale, marigold and dill. So as you can see even some of our companion group must be kept at a distance. But don’t despair, beans despise the same group and we will get several plantings out of this collection.

 Both pea and bean seeds should be dampened and coated with inoculant before planting. Inoculant can also be sprinkled in the planting hole. Inoculant contains nitrogen-fixing bacteria essential for healthy growth and a robust harvest. It can be purchased from any garden supplier.

 Peas need cool weather and are an early spring late fall crop. But the soil temperature should not be below 50 degrees. A fall crop should be planted about eight weeks before your last frost date. Select several varieties with different maturation dates and plant them together. By doing this you can extend your season.

 Plant lettuce at the same time. It too requires cool weather. There is much to-do about growing lettuce that I tend to ignore. It’s easy enough to buy or blend an assortment of leafy lettuce. If heirloom varieties are chosen you can simply cut what you want and the lettuce will re-foliate two or three more times. Every two weeks sprinkle a few more seeds with your peas and you will be able to continue to harvest until both the peas and lettuces succumb to the heat. And remember to let a few of those lettuce plants flower and go to seed next year if you want to collect seed for future plantings.

In the same garden plant some carrots. They are pokey and require about 10 weeks to mature. This can be problematic. Once the warmth of summer arrives your peas and lettuce are done and must be removed. What you don’t want to do is disturb those carrots if they aren’t ready yet. So clean up the lettuce and peas carefully.

Now that the peas are done and cleaned up you can use the same space for pole beans. The beans will benefit by the maturing carrots and the little bit of lettuce left to go to seed. If the area is sparse and perhaps unattractive it can be enhanced with a sowing of radish and some summer savory and marjoram plants. They are quite beautiful. And if a few radishes are left and allowed to go to seed they will reward you with sprays of diminutive, pink flowers.

A ten-gallon container can accommodate about 10 pea vines, 10 lettuce plants, and 10 carrots. Later on, 10 pole beans will replace the peas while the radish will replace the lettuce. Do not disturb the carrots and do remember to inoculate the beans.

I should mention here that you should consider allowing some of those carrots to winter over, flower and go to seed. This is critical if you want to save carrot seed and provides an essential food source for beneficial insects.

This is an area of the garden that by nature capitalizes on vertical space. By growing varieties that have long vines peas and beans can be easily trained to grow on a trellis.

Garden Notes:

Moisten and coat pea seeds with inoculant. Plant them 2 inches deep, 2-3 inches apart from 2/20 to 3/20 and again from 8/1 to 9/15. Peas germinate in 5-12 days and mature in 60-90 days. They require a trellis.

Bean seeds, whether bush or pole types, should be moistened and coated with inoculant as well. Plant them 2 inches deep from 4/1 to 6/30 and again from 7/1 to 8/1. Beans germinate in 7-15 days and reach maturity in 60-70 days. Pole beans should be planted 9 inches apart while bush beans should be planted 3 inches apart. Bush beans do not vine and can’t be grown on a trellis. In this collection my first choice is pole beans that will capitalize on the vertical space previously taken by the peas.

Now if you also want to plant pole beans with corn (discussed later) wait to plant the beans until the corn is six inches tall. Here you can plant up to six bean seeds in one hole.

Should you have an interest in growing peas and beans for drying leave the pods on the vines until about 90% of the foliage has dropped off. Harvest and dry the beans or peas thoroughly. This is appropriate for seed saving as well.

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Responses to “Peas, Beans, Carrots & Lettuce”

  1. Angela Cheetham Wilkinson March 11th, 2014 - 5:20 pm

    I learn something each time and this time it’s something I must pass on, and will, re the peas/allium.
    I could never have imagined that peas might respond as unfavourably to all alliums as we do to Monsanto ..fracking ..the rich/poor divide .. environmental disasters ..lying nest-building politicians ..

    • Funny. But yes, companion planting is not just about which plants like what. It is also about the antagonists. Plants, like humans, have a great capacity to dislike each other.